Society / Featured Parties

Sprawling Highland Park Estate Hosts a Kickoff Party to Remember Thanks to Dynamic Duo

Ability Connection Brings a Powerhouse Crowd Together

BY // 09.05.19

The dynamic powerhouse fundraising duo, the two magnificent MK’s: Maggie Kipp and Melinda Knowles, are at it again. This year, they have joined up to co-chair Ability Connection’s Vine & Dine and they kicked off the event’s 12th year festivities with a party at the sprawling and picturesque Highland Park estate of Rosser Newton.

I wholeheartedly agreed to be involved with the host committee the moment the two of them asked. I went on to say “What more can I do?” the second they shared that this year’s event would be honoring DeeDee and Jim Lee. DeeDee was my second PaperCity “She’s The Bomb” feature and I have been a fan of hers for well over a decade.

At these first events of fall (that can sometimes occur right before Labor Day to avoid competing with other events), it’s always great to finally catch-up with so many that you realize you haven’t laid eyes on since pre-Memorial Day. One such guest was the effervescent Nancy Gopez.

“This is the first event I’ve attended after summer and I’ve loved catching up with so many friends,” Gopez shared. “DeeDee and Jim, along with Shelle and Michael Sills, it turns out went on the same river cruise this summer that my parents were on. At first, we thought they were on the same cruise together but they were a week apart!”

Dallas on the Danube? Sounds like fun to me.

Max Trowbridge was all atwitter, sharing the exciting news of an exhibition she is curating and bringing to Dallas of Los Angeles-based artist RETNA’s work.

“It’s going to be incredible,” Trowbridge said. “He really wanted to leave his mark on Dallas and since he has roots in graffiti I’ve found a building for him to tag with his work.” More news on that to come later.

Remarks began as everyone made their way in from Newton’s enchanting English style gardens. Debbie Francis, whose son Bo Francis is a member at Ability Connection, thanked all in attendance, including Neva Hall and Shelle Sills, founders of the annual fundraiser. Hall created the concept after she started serving on the board. Sills, who at that time was general manager of the downtown Neiman Marcus, brought Vine & Dine to the stylish Zodiac Room, which was home to the fundraiser for 10 years.

After much applause, Maggie and Melinda acknowledged the many gracious sponsors and proceeded to share details of DeeDee and Jim’s longtime commitment to the organization. DeeDee joined the UCP (United Cerebral Palsy, the former name of Ability Connection) Women’s Guild in 1986 and remained active until 2004 when she became an associate member. She served on numerous Guild Committees and Ball (UCP’s former yearly fundraiser) Committees in co-chair positions. Jim is Of Counsel to Vinson & Elkins and retired as a partner at the end of 2018. His affiliation with UCP also began more than 30 years ago when DeeDee became involved and he has served seven years on the Board for Ability Connection, including time as chairman and vice-chair.

Steve Kemble, known to many as America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru, rounded out the remarks by encouraging everyone to visit Ability Connection and learn more about the nonprofit’s commitment to daily serve more than 700 individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. Kemble will be emceeing this year’s Vine & Dine. Extraordinary plans are underway for the Thursday, November 14 event which will be held at the very old school Brook Hollow Golf Club. In addition to a delicious dinner, I’m sure my two M’s, Maggie and Melinda, will also have a few surprises for their guests that evening.

Other guests chit-chatting that evening included Chad Collom and Steve Kemble, Janie and David Condon, Debbie and Jim Francis, Christopher Wood, Lynn McBee, Elizabeth Saab, Jen Davis Long, Cathleen Griffith, Carol Seay, Louise Hallam Collins, Meredith and Jack Woodworth, Pat and John Harloe, Casey Lee Robinson, Tori Freeman and Michael Lee, Marguerite Knowles, Mark Knowles, Jack Pratt.

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